'The grass does get greener' - how a listening ear is proving the best medicine
- Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND
For some patients the best medicine can be a listening ear, rather than medication.
That's the benefit people in Suffolk have been getting from what is known as social prescribing.
Rather than giving patients medicines, doctors refer them to community connectors who can help find them support within the community for their problems. This gives them the specialist support they need and helps relieve the pressure on doctors.
One of those that has been helped by social prescribing is Trevor Webb, 54, from Coddenham.
Mr Webb's life changed after his wife of 25 years left him while they were living in Kettering, Northamptonshire.
"I was with my ex for 25 years," said Mr Webb.
"We had three children and a nice house, nice cars and a nice job."
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Then, all of sudden Mr Webb's wife left him and his world turned upside down.
"It devastated me, it killed me," said Mr Webb.
Mr Webb turned to alcohol and became suicidal.
He soon lost his job, his house and his driving license after getting caught drink driving.
"I was on a downhill path and constantly causing problems," said Mr Webb.
"Everyone I spoke to I fell out with. It was horrible."
Mr Webb was sent to see psychiatrists and counsellors but nothing seemed to help him.
"They never seemed to listen to what I wanted," said Mr Webb.
Things started to get better when Mr Webb moved to Suffolk but he ended up taking an overdose following an argument with a new partner.
"The doctor found out about that and she sat me down and had a chat," said Mr Webb.
Mr Webb was put in touch with groups like Suffolk Family Carers and Realise Futures who could talk to him about his problems.
"Between them they listened to what I was saying and now I feel a million dollars," said Mr Webb.
"I'm on an electrician's course and I am doing more.
"Everything is looking really good now."
Mr Webb said that the real benefit of the service had come from people listening more to him.
"Rather than telling you what to do and prescribing drugs, these people listened to everything I was saying and acted on it," said Mr Webb.
"All of a sudden I had a lot of options and things to do."
For anyone in a similar situation to him, Mr Webb has a simple piece of advice.
"Get it off your chest," said Mr Webb.
"Life's worth living and it does get better.
"The grass does get greener again."
Dr Dean Dorsett, NHS Ipswich & East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group’s Social Prescribing Lead, said: "Since the founding of the NHS there has never been a greater challenge to both our health and care sectors and to all our communities.
"Social prescribing, personalised care and co-production with our communities will form the cornerstones on which we will build a better, fairer and healthier society."